“Conscious” People: No One Is Coming For You!

“You don’t know.. what you’re doing, doing, doing, doing..”- Jay-z

I know I’m going to lose out on some conversations after this, but for goodness sakes, you ‘conscious’ people should either get your facts straight or stop talking. Conspiracy theories seem to be the in thing, and naturally there’s a lot of things the government or the state cannot share with you, upstanding citizen that you are either because you would not understand, you do not have access to the same information they do, or you simply don’t have the balls for it. But for Buddha’s sakes, no one is out to get you, there is no secret council of Illuminati Elders trying to drown you in debt and sometimes, the government really does what it does, for exactly why it says it does them. not for some dark, subjugating reasons. It’s as if some people simply do not know how to engage with reality, or research the world around them (and no, youtube documentaries aren’t research, thank you very much). They resort to constructing alternate realities or narratives and then peddle fear from every angle. It signals ill preparedness for life, my friends. Harden the fuck up, and deal with facts. Let me talk about some of the issues I remember being raised in some circles, and try to evaluate the facts, not the conjecture, alright?

Let’s start with Occupy Wall Streets favorite issue: Troubled Assets Relief Programs aka TARP colloquially referred to as Bank Bailouts. Let the Shea Butter and Third Eye crew tell it, Uncle Sam handled $700 billion to the people who sold out the economy and bailed them out while everyone else had to suffer, because of course banks are really the ones running the country and we are all their servants. Wellllllllll, that’s a whole bag of nopetitude. First off, many of the banks handed the money did not necessarily need it. The ones that did? AIG’s shareholders were wiped out as part of the deal. They took the loss, creditors were forced to collect pennies on the dollar, ownership was transferred to the US government and restructured until the company emerged with some measure of sanity without triggering defaults on numerous credit agreements back by ordinary Americans’ investments. They paid that off. GM and Chrysler and Ford were able to keep their operations going, not fire too many people who needed the jobs and emerged from the crisis as stronger companies. They paid back the money. Bear Stearns? Sold. Merril Lynch? Sold. Lehman Brothers? Bankrupt. Salomon Brothers? Sold. By every conceivable measure, Wall Street paid and are still paying. The TARP loans (because that’s what they were, it was not free) were paid back with $15 billion in profit, and many of the banks have paid additional fines and penalties reaching over $400 billion to the US treasury. It was good business, with the attendant benefit of not blowing up everything else. Why wasn’t the money paid to everyday people? Well, for one there’s a lot fewer banks than everyday people, so it required less money. Two, banks have multiplier effects, due to the way loans and credit works, that everyday people don’t have. Three, paying it to people meant that money was gone, and if there was any need for additional intervention, US treasury would cough it up. People wouldn’t have been able to repay the money with profit, in such a relatively short time. All in all, excellent polIcy. Yet, people swear Banks wrote themselves a blank check and blah blah blah. All emotion, zero facts.

Second Issue: Class Warfare. Let them tell it, class lines are being more rigidly drawn, the rich are making it harder for the poor to move up and the big banks and government are setting everyone else up for failure so the one percent can stay on top. This one is a staple on my TL now to the point that I no longer bother to refute it. It simply isn’t worth my time. The facts, from everywhere you can pull it, and even as narrated in this book can show that the number of wealthy people who inherited their wealth is at the lowest it has ever been, ever, in history. The big fortunes of the old years have largely faded. About 90-95% of today’s wealthy class are self made, more than 80% of them grew up middle class or lower, with a lot rising from poverty. You can look up studies like this one, and many more if you would bother looking. In the days of the Rockefellers, or later the DuPonts, maybe 25% of the Forbes 400 were inherited. Now? It’s at a miniscule 7%. That’s hardly a case of class warfare. People are literally building real life fortunes in one lifetime that it took the former wealth class several generations to build. Even for the non wealthy, standards of living have improved to an astonishing degree. For virtually everyone, you have a fully livable income, and the lowest income people there’s a plethora of government services set up to ensure that you at least have a place to sleep and food to eat, and even a little extra. For all the so called wealth destruction via inflation people accuse the Fed of, inflation has hardly been above 3% since the 70s. Time was in this country when inflation was a solid 18% and higher, and fluctuated wildly. We’re literally living in one of the best times in the history of everything ever, yet there are some people who have convinced themselves we’re in some dystopian class warfare society where the poor are being stamped out. It flies in the face of reason.

Blacks, Jews, gays, to a lesser extent, Catholics, Irish basically, what the fuck ever that wasn’t AngloSaxon protestant used to be SOL in this country. It’s better than anything it used to be, and it’s improving. We’re in the time of our lives today, as far as access, potentiality, and opportunity. Conscious people,stop peddling alternate stories and filling yourselves with fear. It’s not real. It’s all in your head.

I’m not claiming things are perfect. But damn, have some perspective. Student loan discharge laws are tricky for everyone, but they’re voluntary debt agreements people entered into. No one held a gun to your head. And while the average student loan balance is somewhere around $28,000, that’s mostly because a few highest education people like lawyers and physicians are pulling up the average with their $100,000 balances. The median balance, representing the middle of the debt distribution in student loans, is around $13,000 which means at least 50% of students with those loans have a balance lower than that. Moreover, about 40% of students graduate with no loans at all. It’s bad but it’s not apocalypse. Data still shows, among college graduates, unemployment is only 4.8% and median earnings are around $45,000. So even if you’re among the 60% that carry some type of student loan balance, if you focus, you can pay your loans off. You can look at more of the data here, but even your life can bear witness to that. People would just rather traffic in hysteria.

There is a lot that could be changed, of course. Medical costs are out of control. Tuition too. Those should be addressed. Lots of things have to be reformed but that is the nature of any system. I’m tired of people telling me capitalism should be overthrown in favor of communism. How did that work out for the Soviet Union? How did it work out for Cuba? Or dozens of African countries that tried it? Or China until it embraced capitalist reform and finally became what it is today. Or did you people just skip the entire 20th century?

Marxist critique of capitalism is valid for showing where it has need for improvement. Marxist recommendations for socialism on the other hand, are a proven failure. Perhaps, it’s time you conscious people applied your considerable powers of reasoning towards dealing with facts. That would be a welcome change.

What do you think?

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